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Lakers able to rest starters during win

OKLAHOMA CITY – To Kobe Bryant, a little bit of rest is way overrated.

Getting ready for the playoffs is what the last stretch of the season is all about.

Bryant scored 19 points before taking the fourth quarter off, and the Los Angeles Lakers cruised to a 107-89 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night.

The Lakers led from start to finish for the ninth time this season and closed within a game of idle Cleveland for the best record in the NBA, and they did it without any of their starters stepping on the floor in the last 8 minutes.

That rest could prove helpful as the Lakers continue a seven-game road trip, having won the first two games.

“I don’t really care about that too much,” Bryant said. “It’s all about how well we’re playing, if our bench comes in and holds our leads.”

Lamar Odom scored 18 points before fouling out and Pau Gasol had 14 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles.

Kevin Durant scored 24 points to lead Oklahoma City, which had all five starters reach double figures but never cut the Lakers’ lead to less than 17 points in the second half.

“We should try to do that more often, absolutely,” Gasol said. “I think it’s something that shows character and consistency, and we haven’t been able to do that as often as we should.

“Hopefully when we get big leads, on the road especially, we can take care of the game and make sure you continue to execute and stay focused on what you need to do well every single possession and sustain the lead.”

Bulls 99, Pistons 91: At Chicago, Kirk Hinrich scored 24 points filling in for the injured Derrick Rose, and the Bulls pulled within a game of the seventh-place Pistons in the Eastern Conference.

Spurs 107, Warriors 106: At San Antonio, Tony Parker scored 30 points and the Spurs finally won a close finish in San Antonio.

Jazz 99, Rockets 86: At Salt Lake City, Ronnie Brewer scored 12 of his 17 points in the second half and the Jazz ended Houston’s four-game winning streak.

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